School of the Unethical: Renting .edu Blog Space

Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 by clicky

Oh how the domain industry needs a hero.

It is now being reported that LinkAdage and the Pickering Institue have teamed up to open up a blackhole of unscrupulous actions by offering anyone blog space for rent...on an .edu domain.  This in effect allows ANY average-joe-schmo to post their blogs under a .edu sub-domain without actually being affiliated with any sort of educational institute.  Dirty pool in my book.

Here is a few excerpts of the front page of the Pickering Institute website:
"Our blogs allow you to reach an education minded audience that is difficult to reach with mass market blogs such as Blogger or Blogspot."

" visitors are looking to learn about new things, and we are building the web's most sophisticated blog community. Having a gives you instant credibility because we have strict guidelines as to who can have a blog and the quality and truthfulness of the writing."

Did you read that last sentence?  Read it again.
"Having a PI .edu gives you instant credibility because we have strict guidelines as to who can have a blog and the quality of truthfulness of the writing."

Basically...they are saying, "Pay us $50 a month and you can blog using our coveted .edu domain extension." This just kills me. 

Ian over at seems to feel the same way, and posts that using this method of marketing a blog:
1. Takes advantage of a vulnerable population.
2. Skews the search engine algorithm that expect educational information at .edu domains.
3. Is in poor taste.
4. And is generally bad for the community.

I agree.

"For those who don't know: Links from EDU domains may get more authority in the search rankings. So a lot of folks prize links from .edu web sites. That's why this could be a compelling offer to unscrupulous marketers." Ian also explains. 

So, isn't this breaking the law in some form?
Not really.  Seems LinkAdage and the Pickering Institute have found a loophole when it comes to the rules of use around .edu domains.  Since the Pickering Institute is considered a verifiable educational institute, they can assign third-level domains to other parties. This is where the Pickering Institute begins to mold themselves into a "blog community" instead of an "educational institute". 

You can almost hear the onslaught of worthless writing that will soon be flooding the .edu universe.
So, How much does it cost to kill a top-level domain extension?
Seems only $50 per month.


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